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i can talk with my eyes shut

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Wolf Trap has a kind of quiet beauty to it in the late afternoon light. It’s the kind of beauty you might miss if you don’t take the time to look. Will knows it well, the way the blue light splays over the snow this time of year, the way the trees look like they’re reaching for something beyond themselves. It is now, while he observes this quiet beauty, looking up from his glasses to see that light before it blinks away, that the phone rings. It is a moment before he starts, just dwelling on this view that he’s seen so many times before in this moment where it will never quite be the same. He looks down at the soft glowing light of his phone screen, which reads “Jack Crawford”. He sighs softly and hits the green button to pick up.

“Graham? We’ve got another girl, Elise Nichols, abducted. Same age, eye color, hair color as seven other missing girls from different Minnesota colleges.” Will can hear his frustration through the phone line.

“No body?”

“No, I was hoping you could-“

“Hoping I could what? I can’t go, Jack.” Will can hear the sharpness of the words as they spill out of his mouth.

“I know your reservations but-“

“Don’t you remember what happen the last time?” Will starts feels a sick sensation creep down his throat.

“I know, I just… You’ve been doing better lately, Alana tells me, and these are kids, Will. Still in college.” Will can feel the pleading in Jack’s voice, it’s hot and it’s desperate and he knows that he’s trying not to show it. Will sighs.

“I remember what happened last time, Jack. I looked at one of those girls, in her eyes, and, and, I could see her entire life, Jack, I could see her hanging out with her friends and not knowing her days were numbered and-” He sighs. He knows that Jack has got him but he still puts up a fight because…he’s not sure. To let him know that this isn’t nothing for him, maybe.

“I know,” Jack’s voice is almost gentle. “You panicked. God, Will- please. There’s no body this time, we need you.” The last fight is out of Jack, and Will knows that he expects him to say no.

“Fine. Alright. Just… the less people there the better.” He doesn’t want to do this. But god, his conscience- he knows he has to.

“There’s one more thing Will- Alana thought it might be… better, if someone was there to help you. To pull you out, if you need it.”

“Wha- Jack, I’m not some sort of broken person, I don’t need a guard dog.” Even as he says it, he knows it’s not true. He’s about as broken as it gets. Not leaving his home for days, and if so, only to get food. Consulting on crime scenes from his house, where it’s safe, where people’s eyes don’t haunt him the way they do in real life.

“I don’t think-it’s just… a precaution, alright? I remember what happened the last time, too. Just- so you don’t get too deep. His name is Hannibal Lecter. I’ll introduce him when you get here.” Will just sighs, and hangs up the phone. He pulls on a jacket and snow boots, tells the dogs he's going to be back soon, and then takes a moment to remember to rebuild his forts.

- - -

As Will’s car pulls up to the address at Jack sent him, he can see it already. This house, this neighborhood- it all looks so nice and normal (“Like something you’ll never have,” is the first thought that comes to mind from the little voice in the back of his head, but he pushes that away). The family he meets will be one in grieving, not the happy one that everyone else knows- crying parents, “How could we have let this happen,” the whole thing. “Well, that’s the job,” he thinks. Outside he can see Jack standing with another man- his keeper, presumably - who is absurdly well dressed, wearing a plaid suit jacket and matching pants. Comparatively, Will looks disheveled in an old snow jacket and flannel. He finally steps out of his car, mentally preparing. For anybody that he has to see more than once, he forces himself to see them- really see them, to look in their eyes, since it would happen sooner or later and it’s just better to get it over with, though feeling their pain never gets any better.

“Will- this is Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Alana mentored under him at John Hopkins. She thought that he might be… helpful, to you.” Will can tell he’s choosing his words carefully, like Will might break at any moment. He’d be mad, if it didn’t happen the last time he was in the field.

“Hello, Mr. Graham. I’ve heard a great deal about you.” Will is ready to say, “None of it good, I imagine,” but then he looks- and… nothing. And he’s staring, he knows he is but… there’s just nothing behind his eyes, not like he lived an uneventful life or something, it’s like he lived no life. There’s just… nothing. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Jack is worried, and he should stop looking, he really should, at this point past awkward, it’s creepy, almost, but he can’t stop looking, for something, anything, and he is just lost in that almost blissful emptiness.

“Alana did tell me that you have…a bit of a thing for eyes…” Hannibal’s voice breaks Will out of his stupor, and he looks at the rest of his face and the way his eyebrow is quirking and oh he thinks I’m being weird. Will opens his mouth and then closes it before looking at his feet and adjusting his glasses.

“Don’t they say the eyes are the window to the soul?” he says, quietly with a bite to his voice. Who is this man?

“Indeed they do,” Hannibal replies, with a smile tugging at his lips. Jack, who thus far has been watching this interaction silently clears his throat, and Will and Hannibal both look up at them, both so entranced with this curious new thing they forgot there was another person there.

“Ms. and Mr. Nichols are inside.” He gestures to the door, which Hannibal opens for the two of them. Will nods his head, an almost inaudible thanks uttered, and a smile again threatens to tug on Hannibal’s lips as he follows them inside.